Manmeet Singh: I started thinking of better ways to secure data. That’s when I started thinking about data masking. Data masking can keep the data relevant and useful for non-production, and in certain cases, production environment also and take the personal PII and PCI values out of it. I found a couple of people who shared the same ideas and we started this company.
Sramana Mitra: In terms of getting the company going, you said you raised $900,000 in the beginning. Before you raised the money, what did you do to validate? Did you have a set of early customers, or at least, a customer discussion? What was the validation process like?
Manmeet Singh: That’s a good question. My validation was my consulting group. When I brought up this problem, the CIO said, “We need to do something about it but we don’t know what.” That’s when I go, “If I’ll show you a prototype, what do you think?” They thought it was a good idea. I got on the ground with these two guys. We started coding and we started creating some kind of a test environment.
We started with the most popular database Oracle. We started doing the masking on that particular database initially. More than that, what I also realized was that people didn’t know what they should protect. That’s when I came up with the idea that we can discover something and tell them. It was a very structured environment.
In the first nine months when I had no money, I put in my own money. I took a home loan and put in about $100,000 of my own money. We put a booth at Oracle OpenWorld and shared the idea with a lot of customers. A lot of ventures came by and they all liked the idea. It was in its infancy stage. I got two sheets when I was doing that. That’s how I was able to raise money.